I am also very honoured to have been involved in the discussions and preparations that went into the Kelowna accord. There was over 13 months of work by the Inuit organization and other aboriginal organizations in Canada. For the party across the way to oversimplify that is very discouraging. For people to say that it was not an agreement or an accord, that it could be disregarded because there was no signed agreement and no budget for it really is oversimplifying the situation. It also adds insult to all the preparatory work that people did on the agreement.
I was in my riding last week speaking with different groups that are suffering badly from the recent cuts to the social programs. The various cuts announced by the Conservative government affect literacy programs, the museum assistance program, and women's groups. The cuts are really affecting the work that communities have been trying to do at the ground level. The Conservative government does not realize the impact these cuts are having on communities. This solidifies my belief that the Conservatives do not understand what reversing the Kelowna agreement has done to our people. I speak mainly for my riding of Nunavut because that is the region I understand the best, but I have spoken with people all across the country and they believed that the Kelowna accord would give them the tools for them to provide their own solutions. They believed that the government of the day recognized their ability to run their own affairs, to come up with their own solutions and to put into play ways of governance that had been there for them in the past.
The recent history of this country has made it very difficult for people in the communities to practise their own ways of governing, their own ways of reconciling differences, their own ways of educating their people, which really are not very different from those of the rest of the country. It is just that we have learned to look at things through a different lens. We all have the same end goals, but the way to achieve those end goals can differ from one part of the country to another, or from one cultural group to another. As I said, the end goals are the same, and they are to provide a good future for our children and to take advantage of this country's resources, which every Canadian should be able to access. How we reach those goals can be different.
We certainly have different ways of looking at things and understanding things as a native people, but at the end of the day we all want what is best for our children. We all want to achieve those goals in a way that works for us. It means understanding that we have to do things our own way and, yes, make our own mistakes. Since Nunavut has become a new territory, we have certainly experienced challenges and have made mistakes along the way, but at least they have been our mistakes.
The Kelowna accord gave us the tools, the mechanisms and the resources, because we do need investments in a different way than has worked for people in the south. Education is a very strong component. The Berger report indicated very strongly that we need to educate our people in a way that is different from that in the rest of the country. It is not to say that we are any less able to be educated but that we need to look at different ways of reaching the knowledge that people have.
The Kelowna accord was certainly a step in the right direction for this country. I ask members in the House to support this private member's bill because it would put us back on the right track to where we were going before. We have been derailed but I certainly hope that we can get back on the right track with this accord.
I thank the members of other parties who have indicated they will support this private member's bill. Again, I urge all members to support this bill. I give credit to my colleague for bringing forward this private member's bill. I know he truly believes this is a way we can bring a group of people from our history back on a level playing field with the rest of the country. I take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who have been very strong in their support. I certainly will be supporting this private member's bill.